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What size do I choose?

First of all, knit yourself a tension square to make sure you are knitting to the suggested sizes given for the pattern. Then you need to measure yourself.


When it comes to scarves, blankets, and even hats, sizing is pretty straightforward. But when you’re ready for your first sweater, things get a little more complicated. You might see S, M, L, etc., and then there are the actual measurements.

The first type is not very useful. It will tell you what range of sizes an item comes in (e.g. a sweater that comes in XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL has a range of six sizes, while a sweater that comes in S, M, L only has a range of three sizes), which can give you some clues about fit and patterning but these sizes really shouldn’t be used to determine which size you’re going to make.

What’s really important are the actual finished measurements, generally given as a chest or bust measurement. So if you want your sweater to be a big boxy cardigan, you probably want to choose one with a finished measurement 4-6″ larger than your body measurements (this is called 'positive ease'). Looking for a more figure-hugging sweater? Choose a measurement that’s 2-4″ smaller than your body measurements ('negative ease').

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  • Avatar
    Rosemarie Valentine
    It would be good to see the chest size on patterns
  • Avatar
    Caroline Westover

    If I want a pullover to be loose and relaxed and the "finished bust" is 36.5 in; would I make the pattern size that is 41.75 in.? If the pattern size is not specified as "finished" should I assume it is, or what else might it be? I thank you for your help. I am ready to try my first cardigan and want to get it right. Happy day!

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    Hi Caroline, The pattern will usually have a schematic with the actual finished size of the garment. Usually in the form of a drawing or chart with at least bust/chest, nape to hem and sleeve length. Then you can work out how much bigger or smaller each size is in relation to your actual size and select the one that suits you best.
    Sometimes a pattern may give 'to fit' size guidance for garments that are meant to be worn with a particular style in mind.

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